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Families face high food prices up to eight months after climate shocks in Bangladesh

 

People affected by flood, drought and cyclones in Bangladesh struggle with price peaks on food for up to eight months after the shocks, a new study has found recently. Data also demonstrates higher levels of acute undernutritionemerging in the wake of suchclimate-related events.

The research,which sheds light on the impact of climate-related shocks and stresses on food security and nutrition in rural Bangladesh, was presented on 30th November, 2014 in Dhaka by the World Food Programme (WFP), Helen Keller International, the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies and the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex/UK. The study was conducted with funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

There is strong statistical evidence that the price ofstaple foods in communities affected by climate-related shocksis higher than in non-affected communities; this lastsfor up to eight months after a flood or a drought and up to six months in the case of a cyclone.

This gives a new lens to view the conventional disaster response and rehabilitation approach and offers the government as well as development agencies a new window for addressing the prolonged effects on affected communities.

When cyclones sweep through a region or whenfloods inundate lands and villages, levels ofacute undernutrition among children (also called wasting) rise significantly.After a drought, the proportion of chronically undernourished children (children who are “stunted” or short for their age) climbs. The study also indicates that mothers make the biggest sacrifices in relation to meals in order to provide the best food to their children.

The study also highlights the critical role of fish as an essential source of protein and micronutrients, which becomes even more pronounced for food security and nutrition following a crisis. After floods and river erosions, fish tend to surface and are easily caught; they become crucial for the affected families’ diet.

One of the recommendations arising from the study suggests enhancing the protection of sources of fish. The study concludes that better integration of food security and nutrition into climate change focused programmes is essential, while programmes focusing on behaviour change could help defeat the social norm of women giving up meals to help their children, but at the expense of their own health.

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